Well, it has finally happened. 77 blog posts and it has finally happened. None of the scriptures this morning spoke to me. I follow the Life Journal setup, and this morning we went into Proverbs. I like Proverbs, don't get me wrong, especially with the adult ADD thing I have going. They're short and to the point. I like that. But...nothing this morning.
And Paul, bless his little heart, is still writing to the church in Rome...a group of folks he had never met, but whom he thought would let him help solve all their problems. Paul, bless his little heart again, is just being Paul. This morning, he was saying something about not doing what he wanted to do and only doing what he didn't want to do, but it wasn't him doing it. No, it was the sin in him. Paul loses me sometimes in the yada, yada, yada. I mean him no disrespect, but I think we get hung up on his letters a little sometimes. We weren't even supposed to read them. They weren't written for us, but for a group of folks half a world away who lived 2 millenia ago.
So, here's what I've got this morning. Yesterday, I posted a comment on my facebook page about the fact that when I get to cut through all the stuff, and when I'm not having to put out fires, and when I'm actually getting to help make a difference, my job rocks. And it does. I'm rediscovering the joy in ministry the last couple weeks or so. It is a tough job, and sometimes very thankless, but that's ok. And contrary to popular belief, we do work more than 1 day a week, and that's ok. But the one thing that I think I have been missing is the fact that what I do is not always tangible, if that makes any sense.
When I was building houses, I could leave in the afternoon and look back to see exactly what I had done that day, and I think the fact that ministry is just not like that frustrates me some from time to time. So, I have found something tangible that I can get involved in. You see, I could spend all week studying and never get done. I could visit every day, all day, and for some folks in the church that's not enough. I can spend 20 or 30 hours a week taking care of administrative duties if I wanted to. And while those things are all part of what ministry is, I'm not sure, that they are enough for me.
Wayne Cordeiro, pastor of New Hope Oahu, talked once of the importance of finding those things that fill your tank. I don't think we realize how important that is. Ministry, for clergy and lay folk, is draining, and if we're not being refilled, we'll wind up burned out. I've watched it happen too many times. Administration is one of those things that drains my tank. I despise it. But it's part of the job. Helping folks is one of those things that fills my tank. I absolutely love it.
Now that seminary's over, and I've taken some time to get caught up on all the things that 5 years of 80 hour weeks had put me behind on, I had to begin looking for those things that fill my tank again. I found one last week. It's tangible. There's a need for it. And it can make a difference in folk's lives. I've taken on our county's food pantry as a pet project, I guess you could say. It's something I should have been more involved in all along because in this county...folks are hungry.
The first day that I was working in the pantry, sorting, pulling outdated food, and whatever else needed to be done, a young man came in who had just moved into town. He had nothing. "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat..." The look on his face as we filled up that box of donated food and took it to his house...that was the face of ministry. Now, does that mean that doing this will always make me giddy? Probably not. I know that reality says there will be folks who abuse the system and who ask for food on the way to buy their lottery tickets or whatever, and I know that will frustrate me to no end, but Friday reminded me why I hung my tool belt up and said, "Yes Lord, here I am. Send me."
So, if you're feeling the burn, talk to your pastor. I know that she, or he, would much rather bless your work and give you some time off than to watch you continue to run on "E", eventually sputtering out and fading off to the side. Ministry is hard work, it's tiring and thankless sometimes. It can take you away from family and the things you enjoy doing. But to look in someone's eyes and see the eyes of Christ looking back makes it all worth it. That fills my tank.